The Old Religion by Martyn Waites

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The Old Religion by Martyn Waites

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Pacy, literate and compelling. A good read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: June 2018
Publisher: Zaffre
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1785764318

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The Cornish village of St Petroc isn't on the tourist trail: there's nothing particularly pretty, or historic, or interesting about it, which might be one of the reasons why Tom Killgannon is there. He had been an undercover policeman, but something had gone badly wrong and now he's in witness protection and working in the local pub. St Petroc feels safe and it's put a good deal of distance between him and some very violent people. He's got an on-again, off-again relationship with the local policewoman, with the on-again bits coinciding with the times when her husband's away. It's not an exciting life, but right now it suits Tom just fine. Until he meets Lila, that is.

Lila's seventeen and a runaway - not just from home, but from a travellers' commune who feel that she knows a little too much about what they've been doing. When she broke into Tom Killgannon's house she took more than just his money: his wallet contains all the elements of his new identity. To get them back he needs to find Lila - and breaking cover risks giving his location away to the gangs he's hiding from, and making him a target for whoever is hunting Lila.

But St Petroc isn't quite as uninteresting as Tom thought: there's the possibility of a new marina being built which would bring prosperity to the area. To ensure that this happens a lot of the villagers are prepared to resort to the ways of the old religion, which their leader, Morrigan, says has never failed. And Morrigan holds a lot of sway, much of it down to pure fear, but there are those who are far from happy about what's going on.

It's a dark story and not for the faint hearted: this is Cornwall post Brexit when the locals have realised that they've been lied to and tourists from the prosperous south east are avoiding the county, nervous of the Brexiteers they might encounter. The sunlit uplands of Brexit have turned dark and rather threatening for the locals - and someone like Tom Killgannon is going to be an outsider no matter how long he lives there. In this situation it's easy for an author to produce caricatures, particularly of the locals, but Martyn Waites does an excellent job of drawing real people, people with plights you can understand. Killgannon is excellent, but I was particularly impressed by Lila, who begins as someone you'd probably go out of your way to avoid, but who gets under your skin and you end up wanting something to go right for her. It's a day or two since I finished reading the book - and she's still in my mind.

The plot's a good one with excellent pacing and a feeling of menace which you can never quite shake. There's a neat twist at the end too, which I really didn't spot. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy along to the Bookbag.

For more Cornish crime we can recommend Careless in Red by Elizabeth George, The Bedlam Detective by Stephen Gallagher and Wycliffe and the Dunes Mystery by W J Burley. Fort more from this author, have a look at The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, the sequel to The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.

Buy The Old Religion by Martyn Waites at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Old Religion by Martyn Waites at

Buy The Old Religion by Martyn Waites at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Old Religion by Martyn Waites at


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